Posted: October 1, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The next in a series of fall open houses at Penn State's Pasto Agricultural Museum will feature natural fibers and historical textile making from 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 28. Special guests from local craft guilds will share their expertise and demonstrate spinning and weaving techniques, according to curator Rita Graef. Members of the State College Weavers Guild will demonstrate traditional techniques from Bolivia and Peru. "Andean weavers use a backstrap loom. However, Julia Weldon, a longtime guild member, has adapted the technique to a small-band loom," Graef said. Centre Spinners will bring spinning wheels and hand cards to demonstrate the traditional way of preparing wool to spin. "Drop spindles and various spinning wheels will be demonstrated," Graef added. "Susan Reel, coordinator of the guild, promises to bring samples of unwashed wool fiber, complementing the samples of wool, flax and silk fibers on display." Families visiting the open house are encouraged to try their hand at spinning with a drop spindle and weaving with a heddle loom. Visitors of all ages also can make and take home a small portable pocket loom and weaving. The history of harvesting natural fibers and using them in clothing, storage, building material and other items of daily use, such as ropes and fishing nets, goes back thousands of years, Graef noted. All cultures of the world have used the natural fibers that were locally available to them. Flax, generally considered to be the oldest natural textile fiber, was found in sites dating back to 5000 B.C. Earliest use of cotton and wool are estimated to be between 3000 B.C. and 5000 B.C. Hemp was cultivated in China in 2800 B.C. Silk is believed to have been discovered by a Chinese princess in 2600 B.C. The Pasto Museum features hundreds of rare farm and home implements from the "muscle-power era," before the advent of electricity and gasoline-powered engines. "By seeing and touching tools and equipment used in early agriculture and rural life, people will better understand and appreciate how early technological developments led to modern-day technologies," Graef explained. The museum is welcoming visitors this fall from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Sunday during Penn State home football weekends as part of an initiative to increase public awareness of the museum's collection. Bring a friend!

Historic textile making drawing

Historic textile making drawing

Pasto Agricultural Museum


Museum Address:
2710 West Pine Grove Road, Gate K

Pennsylvania Furnace, PA 16865